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'Pak army hid LeT militants from CIA inspectors'

Last updated on: November 05, 2009 14:39 IST

Pakistan has lost control of rogue military and intelligence officers, who are now aiding the militants, a former French judge has said in his new book.

"The situation in Pakistan is among the most worrisome. The central government has lost control of certain elements of the army and the Inter Services Intelligence," said Jean-Louis Bruguiere, an investigative French Magistrate.

In his book, which is based on the details of investigations of Willie Brigitte, a Frenchman who was convicted of terrorism charges in 2007, the judge says that according to the account given by the terrorist, Central Intelligence Agency officers were hoodwinked by Pakistani army officers as they inspected militant training camps jointly run by the Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

"Since most of the commanders of the LeT were earlier in the army, these inspections were doomed to draw a blank," he said in the book, which is slated to hit the stands on Monday, excerpts of which were carried by the Los Angeles Times.

"The foreign recruits were alerted on the eve of the arrival of the inspecting teams by their instructors. The trainees had to erase any traces of their presence and head to elevations of more than 13,500 feet while the inspection lasted," Bruguiere says in the book What I Could Not Say.

The book details French investigations of extremist activities in Pakistan, including a case in which officials hid militants from the CIA inspection teams at a training camp run by the Pakistani military, the LA Times said.

"Military handlers then sent the trainees on terrorist missions to the West," it quoted Bruguiere as saying.

"Thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis were being trained in these camps. The Pakistani security forces supplied arms and instructors to the camps," he added.

In his 481-page book, Bruguiere claims the United States made strategic errors in dealing with Pakistan, and adds that it might be too late to clear the security forces of those who sympathise with the extremists.

The book says Brigitte testified that his handler was a Pakistani military officer, identified as Sajid, who sent the Frenchman to Australia to join a cell that was plotting bomb attacks on targets including a nuclear plant. Alerted by French investigators about Brigitte's trail, Australian police arrested the group in 2003.

In 2006, Bruguiere went to Karachi to investigate a suicide bombing that had killed 11 French naval contractors three years earlier. Pakistani security officials were uncooperative and hostile during the investigations, he said.

"French officials in Pakistan were the target of threats and physical intimidation: a way of dissuading us from returning," he writes.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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